Former Tannery Office In Frank Repurposed As Local Law Enforcement And Community Office
Frank, WV – A northern Pocahontas County building that had fallen into severe disrepair is finding new life thanks to the Pocahontas County Sheriff’s department and the community. The more than century old brick building that once housed the business office for Howes Leather Company in Frank, is now used by the Sheriff’s department, the West Virginia DNR, the West Virginia state police and community corrections.
Pocahontas County Sheriff David Jonese gave me a tour of the building during an open house on December 27th. He says an interaction with a resident from the northern part of the county became an impetus for establishing a northern county office.
“What really got me was one day when an elderly lady came down to get her license; of course you have to have a whole laundry list of items to present to get your license and she had driven down on a bad winter day and didn’t have some of the stuff she needed,” says Jonese. “So she said well now I’ll have to drive back home and pick another day to come back down.”
He says some of the needed repairs were immediately apparent when they first entered the building.
“When we came in, most of the windows had been broken out, the walls-paint had peeled, a lot of the plaster on the wall had come off,” he says. “The entire ceiling in the room next door had come down from water leaks; there’s no heat. So we put together a plan to refurbish the building, had very limited funding to do so.”
Jonese says a lot of the cleaning, repairing and painting of the building was done by offenders in the community corrections day report program under the direction of Elisa Taylor and Chuck Alexander. He says other volunteers from the community also pitched in to repair woodwork and apply coats of polyurethane to protect it. Talbot glass replaced the windows.
“Had to do some plumbing work because we had leaks in the basement; we had cracked fixtures in the bathroom here because it had sat so long,” he says.
We continued the tour to the upper floor.
“We’ll go upstairs here,” says Jonese. “This color might be a little bit bright, but it was so dark in this hallway. So as you can see they did the upstairs hallway and our office and they’ve stenciled all the office names. And then this is the day report office; they have access to use the whole building, but when they need their own private office, they have an office they can come to.”
Unlike the school bus yellow stairwell and hallway, the community corrections office is a much more calming periwinkle blue with a couple of comfortable couches by the windows. Jonese says while they did have to do a considerable amount of repairs, the “bones” of the building are sound with many architectural details built into the woodwork. You can see a good example of that in entrance doors at the front of the building.
He talks about the services they can now offer at the Frank office.
“The County Clerk’s office is using it as a voting precinct, DNR uses it, we use it; state police have access to use [it] whenever they’re up here,” says Jonese. “Tax department comes up here; all the things you can do in Marlinton, you can do up here now.”
Sheriff Jonese says the deputies assigned to cover the northern end of the county will work out of this office. Community Corrections Director Elisa Taylor says they will also make good use of the building.
“We’re going to start doing therapy in here and we’re going to start doing classes in here,” she says. “What kind of classes? NA [Narcotics Anonymous] group and if we can get a couple of the teachers to come up here for our substance abuse classes, we’re going to try that too. We do have about five or six offenders who can now take advantage of the office being here. And we did therapy on Fridays all summer here and it worked out really well.”
Here are the Pocahontas Day Report participants who helped renovate the Frank office:
Brittany Finley, John Via, Trisha Muratore, Amanda Galford, Kailey Mortenson, Zach Mortenson, Jeremy Fitzgerald, Kristie Moore, Jeremy Moore, Derek Hannah, Deanna Gladwell, Casey Grogg, Crystal Baker, Angel Turner, Travis Rider, and James Richards.
For now, the official hours for the office are Wednesdays from 9am to 3:30pm. The telephone number at the Frank office is 304-456-5418.